How You Give Away Power - Part 2

by Perkins, Judi Thursday, June 26, 2008
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Most recently we looked at the concept of giving away power in the interviewing process, why and how that happens, and a few ways to retain it instead. Now let’s look at additional reasons and ways to counter them.

When you haven’t identified what you want in your next job, what you want is...a job. Each interview becomes a hurdle you feel you need to clear. Rejections become a reason to double your effort to win over every hiring authority. Combined, both of them result in your giving away more power, not less.

Candidates unconsciously fear that they’ll be judged and found wanting. It automatically puts them on the defensive, eager to please. From innocuous things such as getting a tickle in your throat to being fired, they often fear these situations will be seen as egregious faults worthy of not making the cut. As if interviewers don’t sneeze without tissues? Or get laid off? Or worse?

Getting fired without cause is no reason to lose sleep over how to handle it. When you worry so much about its effect on your interview that you over explain, it actually costs you the job. As Shakespeare said, “Methinks you doth protest too much.” Rather than clearing the air, you’re suffusing it with increased doubt.

Instead of creating a concern for the interviewer, find a way to turn the anticipated concern into a positive and then introduce it into the conversation. When you understand how to do this in a manner that impacts the company, rather than you, then you’ve planted a positive thought before any negative has time to develop.

When you don’t know what you want – except the job – you try too hard. It comes through in your tone of voice, your body language, and your choice of words, however subtle that may be. The interviewer may not consciously pick it up, but he’ll react to it nonetheless. Interviewers are inclined to ferret out problems, go with preconceptions and stick with cookie cutter patterns under the impression that will result in a better hiring decision. Sometimes they’re actually looking for ways to eliminate you, whether you, and they, know it or not. Why help them find a problem? In fact, why give it to them on a silver platter?

If you don’t have a degree and that’s a “concern,” your answer should be, “I understand why you feel that’s important. Some of my employers have initially felt that way too. But as you can see from my resume, I’ve been very successful in this field and in my roles, and the lack of degree hasn’t impeded my ability to impact my employer positively.”

Notice you didn’t argue, nor did you deflate with despair, causing the interview to spiral further downward and cementing every negative you feared might take place. Instead, you’ve supported his opinion, acknowledged that it’s not the first time you’ve encountered it, and shown him – with an objective piece of paper – that it hasn’t made any difference in your performance, and you’ve brought it back to benefiting his company.

He’s challenging you to tell him why he should hire you when you lack what he wants. And you need to tell him, subtly, why his view is inaccurate and, at the same time, present him with the solution. In this example, it’s that equating a degree with success is a fallacy.

Know what you want. Present yourself in a positive manner that provides a solution rather than succumbing to their attempts to keep things cookie cutter safe. Learn how to read the signals and understand what’s going on below the surface, so that you hear what is really being said. And know how to ask questions to find out if it’s a company worth pursuing. Interviewing involves selling. It also involves gathering information. And it has to be done concurrently. That’s the way you keep your power.